The man at the head of the Ministry of Energy, Trade and Employment, Ian Douglas, says the government is taking a holistic approach to improving the country’s competitiveness on the regional and global market.
Douglas’s remarks came during the official signing ceremony on Friday 3rd July 2015, for the awarding of an EC$ 1.2 million contract for the procurement of equipment for the multi-purpose pack houses in Roseau and Portsmouth, to French company Farm-X Technologies.
“The establishment of the pack houses is also government’s response to the increasingly stringent quality of food safety requirements of all our major markets and aims to provide the assurance that Dominica can consistently supply quality products to meet the requirements in those markets,” he said.
According to Douglas, the government also recognizes the “great number” of exporters and hucksters who need to be provided with adequate facilities if they are to export to those key markets.
“Because if you don’t meet those requirements you are going to be disqualified, you cannot get into those markets, produce cannot be sold, farmers cannot sell to hucksters and even if you sell to hucksters, they cannot sell on those markets if those requirements are not met,” he continued. “So it’s a holistic approach that we are making to improve the quality of fresh produce leaving Dominica so that we ourselves can be more competitive in the market.”
On July 23rd 2014, the government of Dominica signed a loan agreement with The CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) to the tune of EC$2 Million for the operationalization of the two pack houses, Douglas stated.
He said that money is to be used for the staffing of the pack houses and making them operable.
The Trade minister further explained that the money will also be used to fund three programs -The Production Support Program, the Market Support Program and Marketing.
The Production Support Program will stimulate production of three major crops under the National Export Strategy: Dasheen, Plantain and hot peppers.
The Market Support Program is intended to boost production of fresh produce which will then be marketed under the Marketing Program.
Douglas revealed that another agreement was signed on the same day with The CDF for a grant for the procurement of equipment for the two pack houses and for undertaking remedial works in the Portsmouth facility.
The grant has been allocated as follows:
EC$ 1 Million for the procurement of equipment for both pack houses
EC$ 152,000 will be spent on refurbishing the Portsmouth facility
The European Union also provided support, according to the minister.
Meanwhile, the General Manager of DEXIA, Gregoire Thomas, said they are hoping that between four to five months all the equipment will be installed and commissioned both in Roseau and in Portsmouth.